India-Pakistan: The Wild, Wild East

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April 17, 2007: In the Pakistan capital, a defiant religious school is demanding the imposition of religious (Sharia) law, and is using girls from the school to stage media events to that end. Most of the 3,000 female students are orphans or from poor families in the tribal areas. The girls have been radicalized and the government is assembling an all-female police team to storm the school and shut it down. The government is reluctant to crack down on radicalized religious schools and mosques in the capital, fearing a mass uprising by supporters. But the leaders of the mosques are calling on their followers to me more and more disruptive, and the government may soon have no choice but to respond.

April 16, 2007: In Bangladesh, political violence, corruption and Islamic terrorism have all declined over the last three months as the military has gradually taken over the government. This was in response to the failure of national elections to take place, on schedule, in January. Technically, a caretaker government is in place until elections can be held. The two largest political parties have both been disruptive, and accusing each other of being corrupt. Both are correct, and the government has been barely functional. Now elections are scheduled for late next year. But the military rule is not likely to fix the country's problems. But in the meantime, hundreds of suspected Islamic terrorists have been arrested, terror attacks are way down, and over 100,000 people have been arrested for corruption.

April 15, 2007: In northeast India, tribal separatists have been getting stronger, and successfully defending their extortion based economy. But all that money has caused fighting inside separatist groups. The region is becoming increasingly lawless, and the government is unable to reverse the process.

April 13, 2007: Indian soldiers and police have increased their patrols in eastern India, looking for Maoist hideouts. There have been several dozen casualties a week as a result of this. Meanwhile, governments in the Maoist infested areas, have passed laws against many forms of Maoist political activity, making it more difficult for the Maoists to recruit new members and organize.

April 11, 2007: In western Pakistan, fighting between tribesmen and foreigners (mainly Uzbeks and Chechens) has largely ended. Pro-Taliban tribesmen killed some 300 of about a thousand pro-al Qaeda foreigners. The tribesmen suffered over a hundred casualties, including about 60 dead. Army helicopters could be seen in the area, apparently providing intelligence for the tribesmen. Army artillery was also seen bombarding locations where the foreigners were dug in. The tribesmen are generally considered pro-Taliban, but that's more because tribal customs are very conservative and in line with Taliban beliefs. But the squabble with the al Qaeda crew (mainly about drug related money) probably won't change support for the Taliban. The army, however, believes that the tribes are now more agreeable to halting their support of Taliban operations in Afghanistan. Time will tell.

 

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